What Every Dog Owner Should Know About Giving their Pet Medicine

What Every Dog Owner Should Know About Giving their Pet Medicine

If your beloved pet has a medical condition, you may struggle with administering the medication your vet prescribes to help them feel better. While these medicines can manage, treat, or even cure the problem effectively, your furry friend may be less than excited about taking them. As unpleasant as the experience might be, you need to give your pet these medicines so he or she can heal.

5 Tips for Administering Pet Medicine Effectively

If your pets have a hard time cooperating, you may need to employ some sneaky tactics to get them to take the medication. Whether your pet medicine comes in the form of a pill, liquid, or capsule, a few simple tricks can help you give your pets what they need.

If you’re struggling with ways to give dogs pills or convince your feline friends that a pet drug is okay to swallow, you’re not alone. Former and current pet owners have relied on these tried and true tactics that can help.

#1: Hide the Pills in Food

One of the most common and simple ways to administer pills to your pets is to hide the pills in food.

For dogs, hiding pills in food isn’t too difficult a task – your pup likely eats everything he can get his paws on! You can hide dog pills in cream cheese, bacon, and other treats you know your pup can’t resist. To make sure that they don’t attempt to spit out the pill, follow it up quickly with a treat like chicken skin or peanut butter.

For cats, you may need to use different tactics. You can hide their pills in foods you know they love, just like dogs. You can also crush the medication and mix it in with their wet food. However, crushing pet drugs could decrease their effectiveness. Check with your vet beforehand to ensure that you’re administering correctly.

#2: Know How to Give Liquid Medications

Liquid medications can be harder to administer since you can’t easily hide or crush them the same way you can a pill or capsule. You will have to hold your animal in a way that you can open and access their mouth. If you can, you should use a dropper or syringe to give your pets liquid medication – that way, the unpleasant taste will go down more quickly and easily.

Follow these steps to safely give your dog liquid medication:

  • Fill the dropper with medication and hold it in your dominant hand.
  • Kneel beside your pup on the same side as your dominant hand. Take your other hand and place it behind the dog’s head.
  • Next, put the tip of the dropper into the side of your dog’s mouth. You want to stay near the back so that you’re as close to the throat as possible.
  • Drain the dropper and release your dog’s head after it is empty.
  • Sometimes, your pup won’t swallow. Give them a little throat massage to encourage them to take their medicine.

Cats can be more difficult and hard-to-wrangle during this process.

Follow these steps to safely give your cat liquid medication:

  • To restrain cats, you will need someone to help you hold them down. If you don’t have someone available, you can wrap them lightly with a blanket and hold them against your body. This tip helps if you’re struggling with how to give a small dog a pill as well.
  • Next, hold your cat’s head still with your non-dominant hand and hold your full dropper with your dominant hand.
  • Insert the tip of the dropper into the corner of your cat’s mouth. Try to stick it as close to the throat as possible.
  • Squeeze the dropper until the dropper is empty. Do not let go of your cat’s head until then.
  • Your cat may not swallow the medicine at first. Stroke your cat’s throat or blow on its nose to help it swallow.

Make sure not to tilt your cat’s head back; this can cause the cat to inhale the medicine and choke. Your cat will most likely struggle during this process. Make sure to talk to them calmly and gently while administering liquid medication this way. If it becomes angry, let your cat go and try again when it’s calm.

#3: Administer during Distractions

If you have a finicky dog or a cat who’s absolutely terrified of the medication, there are some steps you can take to streamline the process. Administering medication while your pet is experiencing a distraction can help you avoid any scratches or struggles.

  • First, make sure your pet never sees the medicine or watches you prepare the medicine. It will ruin the effect of the distraction!
  • Wait until your pet is sleepy to give them the medication. They won’t fight as much or notice what’s going on as clearly. Just a note: this tip may work better for dogs than cats.
  • If you can, distract your pet with a new environment while you give them the medication. Taking your dog to a new place in the park will make them too excited to notice you’ve just popped a pill in their mouth!
  • Give them their medication while they’re eating. This works best if you’re not using oral medicines. If your kitty is face-first in their nightly bowl of wet food and you start to apply their ear drops or topical meds, they probably won’t even flinch.
  • Of course, always give your furry friend a treat after they take their medicine. This will trigger a “reward” signal in their brain that will make them more willing to take their medicine in the future.

Above all, make sure to stay calm, relaxed, and normal while giving your cat or dog medications. Our friends can sense our stress and will react accordingly. If you act like nothing’s wrong, our pets will follow suit and the medication process won’t seem as stressful.

#4: Use Competition to Your Advantage

If you have an especially hard-to-please pup, you can use competition, games, and treat-time to your advantage. If you have two pets, you can use the competition strategy, as long as your dog has not shown food aggression.

Bring along two types of treats: some that are normal treats and one with the medication for dogs. You can wrap the medication in the same treat that you’re giving your other pet. First, give your non-medicated pup a treat for following a command. Give the same command to your other pup and give them a non-medicated treat. Repeat until you successfully give the medication to the pet that needs it.

If you do not have a second pet, you can still use games to help make medicine time a bit more entertaining. You can fake out your dog by making them think their medication is a treat, especially if your pup has a tendency to beg around your feet while you’re cooking. “Accidentally” toss a treat with the medication on the floor and act like you haven’t noticed. Your pup will quickly snatch it up and chow down without realizing the medication is inside.

#5: The Benefits of a Compounding Pharmacy

If your pet simply won’t take their medicine because of its foul taste, you can use a compounding pharmacy to solve your problems. A compounding pharmacy is a type of pharmacy that changes commercially prescribed drugs into something that is easier to take for specific patients. Not all drugs can satisfy a user’s specific needs straight out of the container – and your pet’s pickiness is proof of this struggle.

A compounding pharmacy can take your pet’s medication and change the flavor to something that they love to eat, such as chicken, beef, fish, or fruits. They can also turn a hard-to-swallow pill into something easier to administer, such as a gel medication or topical ointment. If your pet has an allergy to any ingredients, the pharmacy could reformulate the dosage so it does not contain the offending ingredients.


For more tips, see our infographic, 20 Tips on Giving Your Pet Medication

20 Tips on Giving Your Pet Medication


About Compounding Rx USA

Giving your furry friend what they need to stay healthy isn’t always a momentous challenge. Food, safe liquid administration, competition, distractions, and the Compounding Pharmacy of America can help your pet recover from illnesses and injuries without too much stress. Following the tips noted above will make this formerly difficult process much easier in the long run.

We provide specialized pharmaceutical solutions when patients need extra medication support. From veterinary medications to palliative care to sports injuries and everything in between, we can change your commercial medication into a product that works best for you, your family, and your pets. We offer convenient, affordable, and personalized compounding services to adjust your medication’s dosage and form for a more comfortable medication administering experience.

About Matt Poteet, Pharm.D.

Chief Operating Officer, The Compounding Pharmacy of America Matthew Poteet, Pharm.D. graduated with Honors from Lee University with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Science. After his undergraduate training, he completed the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy, graduating in 2004. Dr. Poteet has spent much of his pharmacy career on staff at two of the most prestigious academic teaching hospitals in the Southeast; Emory University in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. At these institutions he received extensive experience and training in sterile products compounding. He returned home to East Tennessee in 2010, where he has held the position of Pharmacy Director at two sterile products pharmacies in Knoxville. Matthew lives in Knoxville with his wife, Chris. Dr. Poteet is Tennessee’s first Board Certified Anti-Aging Pharmacist by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Read More About Matthew Poteet, PharmD